Wednesday, 30 July 2008
Noel Streatfeild's unique ability to understand and empathise with the feelings of children works well in this novel which examines the impact of war on a family. Originally published in 1957, Saplings is at times, almost unbearably sad, but demonstrates what a good writer Streatfeild was. Four siblings, Laurel, Tony, Kit and Tuesday are put under immense pressure by the outbreak of World War 2. Laurel, the eldest daughter is wrenched from the school she loves and forced to attend a school she instantly loathes. Her mother is unwilling to spend valuable ration coupons on a new brown school uniform for Laurel - although she manages to buy plenty of new dresses for herself - and makes her wear her old green uniform. Sensitive and vulnerable, in her conspicuous green uniform Laurel is bullied and nicknamed The Frog while her oblivious mother descends into alcoholism. Saplings is a perceptive examination of the real cost of war.